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My new system has started failing at the start of boot with the error:

RAM R/W test failed
Press F1 to continue

When I press F1 I get:

Checking NVRAM...

And it stays like that forever until I power off.

This new system is
CPU       AMD Phenom 9950 Quad 2.6 MHz
RAM      4GB DDR2

I have googled for the problem but all I find is a program called
memtest which I can't get to run and several links to programs to
repair the registry which is not my problem.

Do I have bad RAM or what?



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Hi Duke, your BIOS is stored in NVRAM, so it`s possible
your on board battery is in trouble. (change it first ).

Although it could be the chip itself.



On Fri, 6 Feb 2009 19:15:30 -0000, "meerkat"

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... or a PSU failing to the point where it isn't even stable
enough to POST, or memory errors, heatsink somehow making
little if any contact with CPU or northbridge.  Whether it
is the battery or not, clearing CMOS with AC power
disconnected ought to be tried if it hasn't been yet (I've
lost track of this thread, the above message being the only
one I recall reading).


jw@eldorado.com wrote:
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Try one stick of RAM at a time. As I'm typing this,
I'm doing that test right now. I have one stick
installed and I'm running Prime95. About half
an hour ago, I just finished running some memtest86+ (memtest.org)
using a CD version. If two sticks isn't stable,
try them one at a time and see if you can get
the board to start.

There are several ways a board stores information

1) 256 bytes of storage in the Southbridge, called the "CMOS".
    The motherboard 3V battery, is there to power that RAM
    when the computer is unplugged. The RAM holds the
    BIOS settings. There are web pages which give a breakdown
    of which address in the RAM, holds which data (including
    the password to get into the BIOS). The RAM is protected
    by checksums. I believe one checksum for the password bytes,
    and a separate checksum for the other BIOS settings.

2) The BIOS flash chip holds the "boot block" (basic bootstrap
    code), as well as the "main BIOS". The "main BIOS" is protected
    by a checksum. If the main BIOS were to become corrupted,
    then you might see a checksum error (the boot block probably
    does the check, before jumping to the main code). The main BIOS
    consists of separate code modules - the modularity allows the
    manufacturer to add a LAN chip, add a LAN code module, and
    get support for booting over the LAN, and so on. RAID interface
    code can be added as well.

3) An area inside the BIOS chip is reserved for "DMI" and
    "ESCD". These areas hold hardware inventory information.
    If you unplug a DIMM (with the power off), then power
    up again, the BIOS notes the change in inventory, and
    writes out the new inventory to the BIOS flash chip.
    I believe roughly a one block area in the BIOS flash,
    is reserved for DMI and ESCD. DMI can be read with
    tools with names like "DMI Explorer" while you're in

That leaves the question, what is

    Checking NVRAM

Well, that depends on whether the technical term is
being used with any accuracy or not. The three items
described above, are all "nonvolatile" to one extent
or another. The BIOS is truly nonvolatile, since you
can remove all power, pull the battery, and the BIOS
chip contents will not change. The CMOS block on the
other hand, only lasts if the battery is still there,
when the power cord is unplugged.

I cannot tell you with any certainty, as to what it
is checking. It could be DMI/ESCD, but you'd think
they could use different terminology when doing that.



j...@eldorado.com wrote:

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What power supply do you have (rating and brand)?  Some fall way, way
short of their ratings, and one of the first things I'd do is take
voltage measurements with a digital meter.

What graphics card are you using?  Fast ones can gobble more than 100

You also don't mention the brand of RAM is in the system, but if it
has heatsinks on it, you'd better hope that it's Crucial and is rated
to meet specifications at 2.0 volts or less.  Generally, heatsinks are
a sign of low quality, not high quality, but lack of heatsinks doesn't
guarantee that the chips are good.  The safest brand is Crucial w/o

If you're using Memtest, it means you're able to boot into Windows,
but Memtest, a program from HCI Design, is a lousy memory diagnostic.
It's better to use MemTest86 ver. 3.4a, Gold Memory ver. 5.07, or
MemTest+ (based on MemTest86), all which have to boot from floppy, USB
drive, or CD.

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